Norman Mailer and the Novel 2.0

By Lucas, Gerald R. | The Mailer Review, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

Norman Mailer and the Novel 2.0


Lucas, Gerald R., The Mailer Review


There was probably no impotence in all the world like knowing you were right and the wave of the world was wrong, and yet the wave came on.

Norman Mailer, The Armies of the Night

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of the digital age is its challenge to established systems of control. Nowhere has this change been more evident recently than the upheavals in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and Libya. While the credit given to social media in these revolutions might be overstated, what social media websites like Twitter and Facebook represent expresses a fundamental shift in who controls communication. Traditional channels of media authority are finally being challenged by a new digital zeitgeist. In many instances, monolithic media forms have encountered a wave of digital literacy that, tsunami-like, washes away political, social, and economic structures that have stood for years.

As I write this, Muammar el-Qaddafi's state-run media organizations wage a narrative battle against the revolutionary forces of Facebook and Twitter while literally trying to crush a political rebellion. The former, an organization of old media forms like television, newspapers, and radio, obfuscate alternative views with official ones, while the latter allows a polyphony of challenges to attack this view, both inside and outside of Libya. While the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt were able to facilitate political change mostly through the media, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain--and arguably Iran--must translate the battle of words into the material world. Many of these regimes are not afraid to back their one-sided propaganda with force, a tactic not uncommon for the despotic.

A similar battle has been waging for over a decade now, also precipitated by social media that between the entertainment industry (supported by the government) and the consuming public at large (mostly young). The model of this industry is based on a physical product that can be controlled by the companies that own the copyright: publishing houses, the Record Industry of America (RIAA), and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Distribution of entertainment has always been easily controlled by these megapowers, not only whose voice was sanctioned for publication, but how that voice was packaged and sold. Even the advent of new analog copying technologies becoming widely available to the general public beginning in the 1970s--the VCR and tapedeck--only succeeded in giving the powers-that-be more approved modes of distribution. (2)

It was not until the digital was combined with the Internet that the power of these entertainment corporations was challenged. The old model of distribution was based on a physical object that was easily quantifiable, controllable, and policed. The object--the copy--fit into the traditional economies of morality: it is wrong to steal. When you steal this object, you are depriving the owner of money, enjoyment, and his or her property. However, without the medium, this ethical narrative becomes tenuous it just doesn't seem like stealing anymore. Indeed, the benefit of the digital copy is that making one is not only a perfect reproduction, it does not deprive the owner of his or her enjoyment.

The digital zeitgeist is a challenge of medium. Any student of Marshall McLuhan can tell you that "the medium is the message" (8). By this adage, McLuhan meant to call critical attention to the politics of medium--how it controls the ways users process their reality. McLuhan was not interested in content, but in how our use of the devices of communication (the media) shaped our lives and our perception of them. Most media before the digital did not allow for what Jean Baudrillard calls "response" (280). Media, he argues, do not facilitate a communication exchange because information flows one-way; therefore, the powers that control the media also control the message (Baudrillard 277-288). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Norman Mailer and the Novel 2.0
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.